T-Birds Undefeated League Champs On The Mats

HALF HOLLOW HILLS, New York, Jan. 29

BY: Andrew Wroblewski

Several “wrestling families” have come and gone through Suffolk County over the years, Bill Davey Jr., Half Hollow Hills High School East’s head wrestling coach, said. But none of those families, he said, can really compare to what the Spadafora family is doing right now.

The three Spadafora brothers – eighth-grader Jon Spadafora, sophomore James Spadafora and sophomore Philip Spadafora – all currently wrestle for Hills East’s varsity squad and, even better, they’re the first three wrestlers on the team’s lineup at: 99 pounds, 106 pound and 113 pounds respectively.

“They’re definitely part of a special [wrestling] family,” Davey said. “They love being around each other and they’re very competitive so I think that helps all three of them… to have that mentality of brotherly competition [between them].”

That brotherly competition has helped all three of the brothers to success this season – along with overall team success as the Thunderbirds (5-0) finished up their League III season with an undefeated record on Jan. 21, which fulfilled a goal set by the boys at the start of the season.

“They’re very proud of themselves,” Davey said. “A few weeks ago, I said to them that they have a chance to do something [finish undefeated] that doesn’t come around very often. I think the majority of people understand that league championships don’t just get handed out.”

Speaking of undefeated, Jon did not lose a single match in league play this season, Davey said, and his coach is expecting him to be a league champion.

“To come up [as an eighth grader] and compete with high school kids, it’s extremely impressive,” Davey said of the 13-year-old. “He has a great attitude and great work ethic… [as] a 13-year-old boy wrestling 17-year old men. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was selected All-County.”

James and Philip have also built on successful seasons, Davey said. James, although struggling early on in the season, has turned it on as of late and is expected to finish strong. Philip, James’ twin brother, is a returning All-County wrestler.

“I expect him to be one of the top wrestlers in the county,” Davey said. “Maybe he’ll even earn a ticket upstate.”

The road to that ticket upstate, for Philip and all of the Thunderbirds, was scheduled to start on Wednesday as Hills East was to wrestle in the first ever Suffolk County dual meet championship. For the first time, Davey said, a committee will seed 16 of Suffolk’s top wrestling schools to compete in a “March Madness” style tournament.

With the snow storm pushing the start-date back, No. 13 Hills East is set to travel to No. 4 Connetquot (6-0) on Friday at 4 p.m. Should they win, the Thunderbirds will face the winner of No. 5 Rocky Point (7-0) and No. 12 Mattituck (7-0). That match would be scheduled for 10 a.m. at Bay Shore High School on Jan. 31 – and the Thunderbirds would keep wrestling, 1 p.m. for the semifinals and 5 p.m. for the finals, until being defeated.

“We’re going to be competing against the top teams in Suffolk County,” Davey said. “Some of them we’ve seen, some of them we haven’t… But we’re going to try and figure out who the best dual meet team is in Suffolk.”

Aside from the dual meet tournament, the Thunderbirds will also begin their individual League III tournament on Feb. 7 at Smithtown East. Following that, Hills East will likely have wrestlers compete in the Suffolk County tournament later in February and, if they’re successful, even further.

Originally published: Long Islander News: Half Hollow Hills
(Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015;  A23)

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